Praise the Lord
Psalm 117:1-2

During our recent summer vacation, my family took three other children to Australia for a couple of weeks study abroad. We stayed in a small town on the coast north of Brisbane where my sister lives. During the day, the children went to a local school, but we also had plenty of time for site seeing. The nature of that area was just amazing – we walked along soft sandy beaches, through tropical rain forest, and saw whales right up close.

One night, we bought take away and ate dinner outside on a long pier. As we ate, we looked up at the billions of stars in the Milky Way.

It looked something like this, and it was just so amazing to see how many stars were there. The whole sky was ablaze. They were literally uncountable.

But let’s turn it around for a moment. Instead of looking at the stars from the earth, let’s look at the earth from the stars.

From space, we can see the outlines of the continents: we can see land and sea. From above, the earth has a oneness about it. It looks like it is one…earth.

Let’s zoom in look closer. We see coastlines, mountains and rivers.

They are natural, of course, but they form borders: boundaries between countries.

But we can also see walls and fences that people have erected for the same purpose. Walls to keep people out. Fences to keep people in.

Borders can define identity. Even though we live on this same earth, many things are very different, just because of where we were born. The citizens of some countries enjoy political and other freedoms. Other countries impose strict controls on what their people can say and do, and where they can or cannot go.

But there are even great differences within individual countries. Even in the same country, you will see affluence, and you will see poverty. Some people have great abilities, and some have severe disabilities. There are people whom society praises, and people whom society rejects.

This is the world that we live in!

Let’s look back at the Bible reading that we read just before: “Praise the Lord!”

Now, who should praise the Lord?

“All you nations and all you peoples.”

Now, did you know that there are just under 200 countries in the world. Countries that have developed their own unique cultures and languages. People who look different. People who sound different. People who do things differently. There is a lot of variety – even here in this room today!

But the Bible calls on all peoples from all nations to praise the Lord.

Yes, there are some things about us that are different. But some things are the same. Things that are fundamental.

Some people eat rice and pickles for breakfast, some people eat toast. But we all have to eat to live. Some people traditionally wear shirts and trousers, some kimonos, and some even grass skirts. But we all cover our bodies with some sort of clothing. We all have the same number of bones in our bodies, and if we cut ourselves, we bleed the same colored blood. We are all born into this world naked, with nothing. And when we leave, no one can take anything with them. In spite of the many superficial differences, the fundamentals of our humanity are the same.

If we thought we really are different, then it should be a shock to realize that we have these things in common! However, it should not be surprising to us if we have all come from the same source.

Science says we do. Science says we all have a common ancestor. That means that we have all come from the same person. So, science says that, in spite of our superficial differences, we, as humanity, are actually really one family. But over time, we have developed different ways of living.

Did you know that the Bible tells us the same thing! The Bible also tells us that we have come from one person:

Ge 3:20 says that Adam, (created first directly by God,) named his wife, (who was created second,) Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

This psalm is calling us to look beyond the cultures that we have developed. It challenges us to look beyond the religions and philosophies through which we try to find the meaning and answers to the questions of life. This psalm inspires us to see beyond our respective limited experience and understanding in life, and look to the very source of our lives.

“All you nations and all you peoples:
Praise the Lord!”

So, this is a scripture that hopes for the unity for all of humanity.

“All you nations and all you peoples.”

This psalm looks to eliminate racial and social prejudice:

Whether you have money or are poor; whether you are weak or are strong; whether you have been uplifted by success, or crushed by failure: know your Creator – know the Lord.

If you are in a high position, be humbled. If you are in a low position, be encouraged.

If you have authority over other people, be sobered by remembering that there is One who has authority over you.

If you are being crushed under the authority of another, be comforted by remembering that God has ultimate authority and will bring true righteousness to bear in His time.

This psalm hopes to overcome adversities and divisions. It reaches out to all peoples.

This Scripture does not deny that there are many countries and cultures in the world. It does not claim superiority of one culture over another. It does not aim to highlight the differences or draw attention to our various cultural values. No. But it does reach out to all peoples.

And it calls us to take our attention away from ourselves. It calls us to look up to our Creator.

And by calling us to recognize and praise our Creator, this Scripture seeks to bring unity amongst the Created. Us!

“All you nations and all you peoples: Praise the Lord!”

Now, Verse 2 tells us why we should praise the Lord.

“For great is his love towards us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures for ever.”

There are two things here. First, it says that we should praise God for His love. The Japanese translates this as blessings/mercy. The King James also says “merciful kindness.” We need to remember that both the English and the Japanese are translations from the original language: Hebrew, and as we look at this briefly now, we will see that these different words do indeed refer to the same thing.

The second thing that we should praise God for is: “His faithfulness endures forever.” Here too, the Japanese, as well as the King James, translates the word “faithfulness” as “truth,” and as I just mentioned, we will see that they also refer to the same thing.

As we know, there are many differences and inequalities in the world. There is so much injustice.

People who don’t deserve bad things, have bad things happen to them. People who do bad things don’t get caught or punished. It isn’t fair.

When we see something unfair, and especially, when we personally experience something we think is unfair, then we cry out for justice.

And so we should. Being moved to action in the face of injustice is a sign of love.

But the reality, is that we are actually very selective in our demand for justice. It is easy for us to see the injustices of others. And we are quick to point out when we have been wronged.

But if we expect true justice, we must expect that the dispenser of that justice be fair and unbiased. He must have the same standard for all.

And so if the judge is truly neutral, if there is no favoritism, then we must also receive the same judgment as everyone else.

Well, the Bible tells us that our Creator God is our ultimate judge. He is holy and righteous. That means that His standard is therefore perfection. It also means that everything that does not meet that standard of perfection must be dealt with. Therefore, sin must be punished.

Col 3:25 tells us:
Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

He is an unbiased judge.

But, let’s look at Psalm 117 verse 2 again.

“For great is his love towards us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures for ever. Praise the LORD.”

In other words, God loves His creation – that’s us! Great! But at the same time, He must also be true to His character – in other words, to His holiness and His righteousness.

So, while God loves us, anything that does not meet God’s perfect standard must face His judgment.

Do you want to praise the Lord for that?

Maybe, when we turn on the TV news and see the terrible things that people do to each other. Of course, when someone we love has been abused. Absolutely, when we feel that someone has been treating us unfairly. At those times, we want full and fast judgment!

We can praise the Lord for dealing with other people’s wrongs!

But God is not bias

So, can we still praise God?

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to my own life, I don’t want justice. When I look inside myself, standing before holy God, it is not justice, but mercy that I need. I need help! I need to be saved.

“(For) great is his love towards us,…”

Ok then, how has God loved us? What has His love done for us? How can the Holy Judge help me?

Psalm 103 verse 10 tells us that:
“he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

In other words, although God is holy and must judge sin, in His love, He does not punish us.

But if God is righteous, how can this be?

It is possible because of Jesus.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (Jesus) that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Jn 3:16

Jesus had no sin, but He took all of our sin from us. All of it! And Jesus took that sin of ours onto the cross. There, the source of life experienced a physical death. And through that death, the penalty for our sin was paid. And in place of our sin, and instead of the penalty for that sin, Jesus now gives us His righteousness.

So, on the cross, God’s requirement for justice, and our need for mercy, were both fulfilled.

Romans 8:1 declares
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”

This is what we call grace:
God’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense.

In other words, because our sin is forgiven, we can expect and experience peace in our hearts; we can experience hope in our hearts; and we can experience joy and strength in our hearts.

That’s what we can praise the Lord for!

There is so much unrest in the world: There are wars against countries and fighting within families. People fight, argue and hurt each other.

But it doesn’t matter who we are, or where we are from. Whether we are rich or poor; healthy or sick; strong or weak; God has reached out through Jesus to give us eternal peace, hope and joy.

That is the love and faithfulness of the Lord.

Is that something you want? Is that something that you would be grateful for? If it is, then you too can praise the Lord.

Let’s pray.

Father God, we so often get stuck worrying about the differences and problems we have with other people. Please help us to stop looking at those things, and to see your faithful love that you have shown to us through Jesus. Please help us to understand your love. Please help us to experience your love in our lives. And please bring peace to us as you fill our lives with thanksgiving and praise for you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.























創世記3:20 さて、人は(神様によって最初に造られた人アダムです)その妻の名をエバと呼んだ(二番目に造られた人です)それは、彼女がすべて生きているものの母であったからである。

















ここでは、二つのことが言われています。一つ目は、神様の愛のゆえに私達は神様をほめたたえるべきだということです。日本語では、「恵」と訳されています。英語の古い訳では、“merciful kindness.”「哀れみ深い親切」となっています。ここで私達は、英語も日本語も一つの原語、ヘブル語から訳されていることを思い出す必要があります。そのことを考えると、これらは違った言葉であっても、一つのことを現しているということが分かります。

二つ目は、“His faithfulness endures forever.”「神様のとこしえまで続く誠実さ」のゆえに神様をほめたたえるべきです。ここでも、日本語と英語の古い訳では、“faithfulness ”が「まこと」と訳されています。先ほど、言いましたように、これらは同じことを現しています。